Surviving on Free Web Hosting

advantages of free web hostingIt’s a well-known fact that if you’re serious about an online business or planning a website that will eventually grow to be an authority on a specific subject or industry, you can’t rely on free web hosting. Mainly because paid hosting gives you a lot more options and does not limit your site’s capabilities, and also because you’re pretty much stuck with with free web hosting once your site becomes popular enough.

Shared hosting for as low as $4.99 a month.

However, there’s still room for free web hosting. Like if you just want to test the waters, or if you’re only using it as a personal, non-commercial presence on the web. Or if you’re using it for a small business that is predominantly operational online, with the website only serving as a means of online branding. If these cases apply to you, you should know that free web hosting will be fine, but you still have to keep a few things in mind:

Invest in a Domain Name

There’s simply no getting around this, if you want your presence on the Internet to be for the long term. Without your own domain name, you’ll be locked out of various promotional, marketing, and earning opportunities reserved for businesses that have invested on their own domain name. For instance, Google’s Adsense doesn’t allow sites that do not have their own domain names.

Additionally, buying your own domain name gives you a lot more options for the long term. You can easily have the domain name redirect to a site built on free hosting, and you’ll still have the ability to move the files to another service (even to a paid one) if hosting service goes down or does something you disagree with. All you have to do is change the redirect.

Do Your Research on a Free Host Before Signing Up

The adage “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” rings true even in terms of web hosts. No company actually offers free web hosting without getting something in return on their end. There are some really good deals, like Prestige Hosting, which offer their free host as a trial for their paid ones. In their case, they provide all that you need to get a small website started, on the premise that it serves as a good introduction to their paid plans. They are confident that you’ll eventually outgrow their free service and will sign up with them. Prestige is an example of a free service that you should go for. Additionally, they also provide full hosting services free of charge to sites that they deem worthy of it – if your site is a not-for profit one, you may want to inquire on how to apply for the service.

What you need to avoid are free hosting services that offer free hosting, but pepper your site with spam, such as pop up advertisements that are not relevant to your niche. What’s worse, there are actually services that use your site as advertisement platforms for malware, adult, or illegal content. No amount of free storage space and bandwidth will be worth these, so try to avoid them.

There are also free services that may be free and only put non-obtrusive ads, but have very poor support as well as extremely restrictive TOSes, such as companies that automatically delete your site’s content if you upload mp3 files to their server, even if said mp3s re completely legal recordings of your own band.

Be Prepared for the Future

As stated above, you can’t really rely on free hosting for the long term. Any number of problems could occur, which will lead to you losing your host. So it’s best to be prepared. As mentioned before, you may want to invest on your own domain name, so that you still have the option to move everything to your own host once the free ride is over.

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